Florida Department of Environmental Protection Getting Weaker Under Rick Scott

Categories: Environment
DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard
Gov. Rick Scott appears on track to fulfill his vision of making the Florida Department of Environmental Protection a customer-service oriented rubber stamp that allows industry to dump on the environment with little worry.

In 2011, there was a 28 percent drop in enforcement cases handled by the DEP, while pollution penalty assessments dropped by 29 percent, according to a report from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. 

This drop in enforcement is in line with orders handed out by top DEP officials. An internal memo from Jeff Littlejohn, deputy secretary for regulatory programs at DEP, urges employees to work with companies and public entities found in violation of environmental laws rather than take action. 

Littlejohn wrote that when "noncompliance occurs despite your best efforts at education and outreach, your first consideration should be whether you can bring about a return to compliance without enforcement."

PEER asserts that the unstated goal of the memo is to make sure the DEP "resists enforcement in all but the worst cases."

Littlejohn was appointed to the position by current DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard, who may have lied on his resume to get the gig. The Environmental Protection Agency is looking into the matter to determine if Vinyard's business ties put him in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. 

The PEER report also shows that there were only nine cases involving a fine of more than $100,000 in 2011, a 50 percent drop in such cases from 2010. Furthermore, the DEP's Office of General Counsel handled the third lowest number of case reports in the history of the agency. 

Jerry Phillips, an attorney with PEER who previously worked for the DEP, said in an email the current trends are troublesome because they do nothing to protect the environment. Phillips noted that there is "no compensation for public resource damages, so it becomes a backdoor taxpayer subsidy to polluters."

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Really? Then how did the Everglades get in the condition it's in now? You should know how much it's going to cost all of us to fix the sugar cane industries fuckups. You sound just like the average ignorant teabagger.


If they aren't polluting, they aren't being cited or being treated like a criminal.  In fact most are given warnings prior to being cited.  Why don't you quit making excuses for criminals?

C. M. Castille
C. M. Castille

The companies in Florida are willing to learn to comply with DEP rules, which are not easy to understand.  Why treat 100% of the companies like criminals when a small percentage are intentionally violating rules.  Don't we want employers in this state pending with more than 8% unemployement?


This is a surprise? Don't you know that the teabagging morons drink different water and breath cleaner air? They also eat unadulterated food. It's the  privilege of being an ignorant frightwing nutjob. They believe anything from the Faux News Ministry of Disinformation.

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